A few wins under the belt, domination of Arsenal, and a good probability of making the Europa League stages means that Manchester United is officially a good team. That being said, United still sits in sixth in the Europa League, is struggling to put sides to bed and is yet to really threaten the best teams in England. While there are no great side in England at this time, Manchester United aspires to be nothing less than a phenomenal side with the best talents in the world. United has the potential to become that, commencing with finding the solution to three important problems in the side.
The problem with centre-back isn’t the lack of options as much as it is the stature of said options. In Eric Bailly, Manchester United has the rock on which the defence can be built, and Daley Blind represents a solid option in certain matches. That being said, Blind isn’t the answer on all occasions, and the problem is in the other three defenders at the club- Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, and Marcos Rojo.
Each of the three defenders has shown their quality to succeed at United, but none of the three have shown the reliability of a top-level defender, which leads people to think someone else needs to join the club. In addition, Axel Tuanzebe is knocking on the door of the first team, and there are other defenders could be worth a place. There should be no more than four specialist central defenders (because they are all injury prone) in the side if Mourinho wants to give Tuanzebe a chance, which spells the end for at least one of the three defenders. Removing that defender will give Tuanzebe the opportunity to evolve United as a side, and the ability to add a great defender in the summer.
Jones, Rojo, and Smalling are an example of players who are preventing the squad from evolving, but there are worse instances in different areas of the pitch. The first of said problems is at fullback, where United has a ridiculous number of options. Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Matteo Darmian, Daley Blind and Luke Shaw have all played at fullback for United this season, not to mention the likes of Joe Riley and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson. Blind and Young are not full-time defenders, and this problem could potentially be solved by finding time for Fosu-Mensah in midfield.
In order to do this, United will need to clear some players out in midfield. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Marouane Fellaini clearly do not belong, and the latter hinders United’s free-flowing midfield play. Wayne Rooney is another of such instances, because even when he plays well, he still isn’t as good as the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata, who need a place. Jesse Lingard needs to improve his performances because he is only present against smaller sides. Once United clears these problems, there will be room for new signings, world-class development, and youth.
Manchester United hasn’t even hit top gear, and the competition for places in attack is intense. Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are all arguably worthy of a place in the side, but none possess the electric pace of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, one of whom needs to be in the starting lineup. Figuring out how to use this level of depth, maintain the best form of all the aforementioned players and create a rotational system to keep them all fit will make United impossible to predict and prepare for before matches.